Spiritual Growth Series: Joy (Part Two)

by Dennis Michelson


a. Ecstatic and Enthusiastic Joy – The Greeks called it agallein. It was associated with the worship of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. The New Testament coined a similar word (agallian) denoting spiritual exaltation or sacred rapture as being carried away in a type of divine ecstacy. Luther called it the higher joy that transports the soul. This is a great place to visit but most of us cannot live there.

b. Optimistic Mood or Good Spirits – The term in the original is euthumein or euthumos. It has the meaning of being cheerful with a hint of confidence.
Act 27:36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

c. Gladness – This verb euphrainein is very common in Greek literature from the time of Homer. It simply meant “to cheer”, “to gladden”, or “to enjoy oneself.”

Luk 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

d. Pleasure – Hedone itself is a word that occurs frequently in classical Greek and carries the sense of “delight”, “enjoyment”, or “pleasure.”

Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

e. Hilarious – Hilaros appears in classical Greek with the meanings of “cheerful”, “merry”, and “joyous”.

2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

f. Happiness – Makarios has the meaning of “blessed” or “happy.”

Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

g. Jumping for Joy – The verb skirtan means “to spring”, “to leap”, or “to bound.” It is akin to our word enthusiasm which literally means “having the god inside one” or even “possessed by the god.” In classic Greek it was usually the god of wine (cult of Dionysus). In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan tells of Christian’s experience of forgiveness at the Cross. After the burden of sin had been rolled from his back, “Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing.”

Luk 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:


Chairein is derived from the root char-, from which we get the noun chara (joy) but also charis (grace). We need to learn the lasting joy is the byproduct of understanding grace. This term occurs in the New Testament 141 out of the total of 326 instances of our cognates and synonyms for joy.

There is an important connection between the Christian conception of joy and the doctrine of grace. If there were no grace then there could be no joy! It is on account of the grace of God and all that it implies that we are able to rejoice as Christians.


Any joy that will stick and stay must be grounded in something or someone who is immutable. Such joy is found in –

a. The Sovereignty of God

Hab 3:16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Hab 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

b. The Word of God

Jer 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

c. The Faithfulness of God

Psa 105:42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
Psa 105:43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:

d. The Salvation of God

Isa 12:1 And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
Isa 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Isa 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

e. Giving to the Work of God

1Ch 29:9 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.
1Ch 29:17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.

f. Understanding the Will of God

Neh 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Study Nehemiah 8 and you will see –

(1) They had a desire for the Word (8:1)

Neh 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.

(2) They gave attention to the Word (8:2-5)

Neh 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
Neh 8:3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
Neh 8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
Neh 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

(3) They worshipped the Lord (8:6)

Neh 8:6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

(4) They experienced the joy of the Lord (8:10)

(5) They became involved in the service of the Lord (8:12 ff)

Neh 8:12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

Note that the –

Catalyst for joy was in 8:8 – which led to the joy in 8:10 – because of what happened in 8:12 – and resulted in 8:17. They now understood the significance of Leviticus 23 and so their joy was –

• Based in forgiveness
• Nourished in affliction
• Dependent upon obedience, and
• Independent of circumstances

Study the feast of tabernacles (booths) in Leviticus 23 and you will see why –

Psa 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

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